With anticipation around new signings taking centre stage in football’s collective consciousness, the future of a current Manchester United star has faded, albeit briefly, into the background.
The ‘will-he-won’t-he’ contract saga of United’s Paul Pogba has been rumbling on for what seems like the majority of his controversial second spell at Old Trafford.
Fuelled by the frequent outbursts of super-agent (and pot-stirrer supreme) Mino Raiola, Pogba’s future remains in the balance, with just one year remaining on his current contract.
The saga has already had more twists and turns than a Raymond Chandler novel. As you’ll no doubt recall, back in December, Raiola was adamant that his client was unhappy and determined to leave his current club.
The comments appeared to be timed for maximum publicity, as they came on the eve of United’s Champions League decider against RB Leipzig. Understandably, United fans reacted with a mixture of anger and dismay.
Once the controversy had died down, Raiola backtracked slightly and even hinted that an extended stay in Manchester could be on the cards for his high-profile client.
At this point, the situation has become so inscrutable that fans have taken to analysing every statement, public utterance and tweet in search of greater meaning.
As well as revealing the lesser-known ‘Pogba the Leader’ and ‘Pogba the Mature’, the article uses insight from those close to the player to reveal a more complex personality than the media-driven caricature known for the haircuts, (imminent) documentaries and dancing.
The passages of most relevance to his future at Old Trafford, revolve around a family called the Dalbys.
The chances are you won’t have heard of the Dalbys. However, they happen to be the family Pogba stayed with during his first stint with the club and they speak highly of their former house guest and long-time friend.
They paint a picture of an infectiously fun and loyal character who “if you need(ed) him, would be there at the drop of a hat.”
Father, Paul, reveals, “He always says, ‘I’ll play where I’m happy’…Manchester is his happy place. He feels a duty. He’s repaying and I think he still has a job to do. This is his time.”
It’s encouraging stuff from someone who knows United’s divisive enigma really well. That said, it’s far from a guarantee and, with Raiola involved, a transfer demand or pledge of allegiance could well drop into the public sphere on any given day.
Pogba himself was in excellent form for United last season, looking more composed, efficient and mature than at any point during the previous four years. From an outside perspective, he seemed settled and happy at the club.
However, as the article itself shows, it’s impossible for fans to really understand what makes the Frenchman tick and there’s much more to him than the often reductive image presented in the media. Hopefully he does feel a loyalty to the club that pushed the boat out more than once to make him a United legend.
There’s still time for it to happen.